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Goldilocks and Little Bear app review

goldilocks title screenIt’s not exactly news that I love Nosy Crow’s apps, particularly their fairy-tale series (see our reviews of The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Snow White). The latest in the series, Goldilocks and Little Bear (November 2015; iOS only), makes the most of the app format.

Choose from “Read and Play” and “Read by Myself” options to begin. In this retelling, Goldilocks’s story is fairly standard, except for her biracial family (yay!) and a few embellishing details. She goes into the bears’ home, helps herself to their porridge, chairs, and beds, gets discovered, and is chased away.

But Little Bear also gets his own plot here, parallel to Goldilocks’s. His parents make porridge for breakfast, but it’s too hot, so they head into the woods for a game of hide ‘n’ seek while they wait for it to cool down. Little Bear wanders off and finds himself at Goldilocks’s house, where he samples her family’s pancakes (“too sweet,” “too salty,” just right), wardrobes (“too scruffy,” “too fancy,” just right), and reading material (“too boring” with “not enough pictures,” “too scary,” just right).

golidlocks pancakes

little bear with pancakes

What’s really innovative about this app — compared both to previous apps in the series and to other children’s apps I’ve seen — is the way it relates the two interconnected stories in tandem. Hold the device one way for a scene in Goldilocks’s tale, then flip it upside down for a complementary scene in Little Bear’s. The stories converge when Goldilocks and Little Bear, fleeing one another’s parents, run smack into each other and strike up a friendship.

Subtly pulsing blue dots indicate where to tap for interactive moments that advance the plot. In addition to interactive opportunities throughout, simple activities such as collecting berries, playing hide-and-seek, jumping on the bed, and playing dress-up are naturally integrated into the storyline(s). A few screens allow you to incorporate your own audio or visuals from the device’s camera.

Tap a bookmark at the right-hand side of every screen to access two maps of scene thumbnails (one for each character’s arc) and revisit favorite moments. A parents’ section offers some tips for using the app.

goldilocks map

All the Nosy Crow production hallmarks — a two-dimensional (with a somewhat cut-paper look) illustration and animation style, engaging narration supplemented with dialogue by a cast of charming child voice actors, plenty of visual and textual humor, and upbeat music — round out the app. Another winner.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for preschool and early primary users.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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Comments

  1. The coolest feature of this app is the dual story. You can follow the stories one at a time, jump around as you like on a map, or, at any time during either story, you can flip your device over and be transported to wherever the other main character is. Often, that means hearing very similar stories with just the details altered: the bears’ porridge is too hot and—flip!—so are the humans’ pancakes. Sometimes, the parallel stories aren’t quite as close to identical: while Goldilocks tries out chairs, Little Bear tries on clothes from three different wardrobes: “too fancy,” “too scruffy,” and of course, “just right.” (It’s refreshing that the options in the “just right” wardrobe include both a scouting uniform and a leotard and tutu; Little Bear, a he according to the narration, seems to be just as happy in either. And while we’re at it, Goldilocks is biracial; kudos for both these choices!)

    Within the scenes, there’s some interactivity. Flashing blue dots indicate that if you tap a character, he or she will have something to say, and sometimes that something will suggest an action: “This chair is too high!” means move me to the next chair. In some cases, it’s that obvious; in others, you need to either make some inferences: the bears are talking about porridge? I guess I should drag their spoons into their bowls and then into their mouths. It took the “For Grown-ups” note for me to realize I was supposed to physically rock the device, not just drag with my finger, to get Goldilocks rocking in her (well, Little Bear’s) chair, but I wonder if that would be more intuitive for a child who’s been constantly exposed to this sort of app.

    Overall, this is a fun way to practice reading and take ownership of a story—you get to decide which character to hear from and when, interact with the characters, and compare and contrast their stories.

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